You may think your cat’s been sneaking in extra kibble, but that flabby skin swinging back and forth as your cat walks is there for a reason. It’s called the primordial pouch and serves an essential biological function in giving your cat its nine lives.
All cats have primordial pouches, including wild cats, although it’s difficult to see in skinny cats like a Sphynx. But rest assured, your cat has one. It’s an interesting part of cat anatomy, and we’d like to share why. Let’s take a look.
Why Does My Cat Have a Primordial Pouch?
The primordial pouch runs along the entire underbelly of a cat. It’s composed of fat, skin, and fur, and is typically noticeable when your cat is fully matured. Kittens around 6 months old can show a primordial pouch, depending on the cat’s size, breed, and coat length.
Although this pouch looks funny, it serves three primary purposes for keeping your cat safe: protection, flexibility, and food storage.
Have you ever noticed your cat bunny kicking you when you touch its belly? You might have the battle scars to prove it. It’s animal instinct to protect and attack the abdomen when fighting with another creature. After all, that’s where all the vital organs are. The primordial pouch acts like a pillow cushion against razor-sharp claws and teeth, keeping the internal organs intact.
Cats will contort their bodies into bizarre positions every chance they get. To do so, their bodies need to be stretchy. The pouch gives them extra length as they elongate their bodies and even as they jump from and to higher places.
Your house cat doesn’t need to worry about starvation, although it might think differently with an empty food bowl. But stray and wild cats don’t know when their next meal will be. Until the next meal scurries by, the body can use this extra fat for energy.
Other Reasons for a Primordial Pouch
Despite cats having a primordial pouch, there are other reasons cats have a flabby belly. Obesity, pregnancy, and aging can cause the skin to stretch and sag, making the pouch look bigger than it actually is.
At the same time, some cat breeds are larger than others. Take the Maine Coon, for example. These cats are much heavier and fluffy than Sphinxes, so their pouches look flabbier than other cat breeds.
Fat vs. Pouch: How Do I Know if My Cat Is Fat?
No matter how much we obsess over fat cats, the reality is that a fat cat is more prone to illness and poor quality of life. We certainly don’t want this for our cats. So, we as cat owners must tell the difference between a flabby pouch and obesity to keep our kitties healthy.
But knowing the difference between a natural pouch and unwanted fat can be confusing, especially when we’re bombarded with pictures of fat cats online. How can we know what normal looks like?
When comparing the primordial pouch and extra fat, the important thing to remember is that the pouch only covers your cat’s abdomen, with most of it resting in front of the groin.
On the other hand, your cat’s body stores extra fat everywhere, like the waistline and around the ribs. Instead of improving your cat’s quality of life, excess fat inhibits your cat’s ability to do everyday activities like jumping or grooming.
If you’re unsure about your cat’s weight, ask your veterinarian to give you a body condition score of your cat. Based on a complete body exam, veterinarians use a number between one and nine to determine if your cat’s weight is normal.
We want the best for our cats, so it’s good to ask questions when we notice something strange about their bodies. But you can rest easy. A primordial pouch is 100% normal for all cats.
Your cat’s pouch may stand out more than other cats, but you shouldn’t worry about this unless you’re concerned about your cat’s weight. If that’s the case, perform an at-home body check and see where the fat lies on your cat’s body.
Featured Image Credit: Lisitskiyfoto, Shutterstock